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Expectation can be a weighty thing to have placed across ones shoulders; the Australian originating and now London based four piece Howling Bells know this only too well. There critically acclaimed self-titled debut saw them temporarily morphed into being broadsheet darlings, yet later deliverance of a sophomore album that was sturdy yet underwhelming led to once anticipated expectation gracefully slipping away, and which meant that this third instalment could be constructed without unwanted spotlight glare or pressure. And yet the band return with an album that delicately purrs rather than roars for attention.

Though the highly spirited opening ‘Charlatan’ shows promising shards of a less angsty ‘Rid of Me’-era PJ Harvey, it neglects to stay in this position for long as the road it takes from here on in zooms towards a familiar terrain, which sees Howling Bells once again revert back to constructing the tastefully melodic grown up coffee table guitar pop that we now fully expect from them. Occasionally there’s a quick detour via whiffs of Fleetwood Mac (‘Live On’) and Kate Bush overtones (‘Gold Suns, White Guns’), but while past aficionados will not be disappointed, most people will.

By Nathan Westley

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